Hexagonal boron nitride thin film thermal neutron detectors with high energy resolution of the reaction products

T. C. Doan, S. Majety, S. Grenadier, J. Li, J. Y. Lin, H. X. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) is highly promising for solid-state thermal neutron detector applications due to its many outstanding physical properties, especially its very large thermal neutron capture cross-section (~3840 barns for 10B), which is several orders of magnitude larger than those of most other isotopes. The focus of the present work is to carry out studies on h-BN thin film and detector properties to lay the foundation for the development of a direct-conversion solid-state thermal neutron detector with high sensitivity. The measured carrier mobility-lifetime (μτ) product of h-BN thin films grown on sapphire substrates is 2.83×10-7 cm2/V for electrons and holes, which is comparable to the value of about 10-7 cm2/V for GaN thin films grown on sapphire. Detectors based on h-BN thin films were fabricated and the nuclear reaction product pulse height spectra were measured. Under a bias of 20 V, very narrow individual peaks corresponding to the reaction product energies of α and Li particles as well as the sum peaks have been clearly resolved in the pulse height spectrum for the first time by a B-based direct-conversion semiconductor neutron detector. Our results indicate that h-BN thin film detectors possess unique advantages including small size, low weight, portability, low voltage operation and high energy resolution of specific reaction products.

Keywords

  • Hexagonal boron nitride
  • MOCVD growth
  • Semiconductor thin film detectors
  • Solid-state neutron detector

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